New 5G spectrum massively boosts Brasília’s 5G experience

Brazil’s 5G experience has improved markedly since 5G first launched. Operators have now enabled 5G deployments in the 3.5 GHz spectrum range, which was assigned to operators in one of the biggest spectrum auctions in the country’s history back in 2021. This band offers much more capacity and enables better video streaming and much faster download speeds.

Also, operators have achieved a significant technology milestone in the country’s rollout of 5G by switching on 5G standalone access (SA) network technology. They began the 5G SA rollout in Brasília on 6 July. This places Brasília on par with many leading global cities. 5G SA offers the potential for further significant leaps in the years ahead as more 5G devices improve support for SA.

Opensignal evaluated the effect of these deployments in improving the mobile user experience in Brazil’s capital. We compared real-world network data collected by our users for the pre- and post-deployment 90-day periods – of 1 April to 30 June 2022; and of 6 July to 4 October 2022. Users in Brasília saw an increase of nearly eight fold (687.6%) in 5G Download Speed, and a doubling (104.1%) of 5G Upload Speed. Compared to other country capitals of Latin America and the world, Brasília recorded among the leaders for 5G Download Speed and 5G Upload Speed, with scores of nearly 370 Mbps and almost 31 Mbps respectively. Impressively, Brasília was only behind Seoul in South Korea in these measures. However, 5G Availability was still lagging, because our users with 5G devices and 5G subscriptions spent less than 13% of time connected to 5G on average. 

According to data from regulator Anatel — the National Telecommunications Agency of Brazil — as of mid-October of the 5,452 total active 5G towers operating the 3.3-3.6 GHz spectrum band, 84% were within the boundaries of the included 11 state capitals Opensignal analyzed in the chart above. With Brasília being the first to have enabled the new spectrum, users in the capital registered a staggering experience increase of nearly eight fold (687.6%) in 5G Download Speed, when comparing average measurements for pre- and post-deployment from our users over the two respective 90 day periods. For 5G Upload Speed, there was a two fold increase (104.1%) in performance. Brasília has registered among the leading speed increases so far observed across the country.

Remarkably, users in Brasília registered an average 5G Download Speed of nearly 370 Mbps. Put in the context of major capital cities with 5G available around the world, Brazil’s capital’s 5G experience surpassed all of these cities — bar Seoul in South Korea. In fact, Brasília’s 5G Download Speed was almost 2.5 times faster than the average for nine of these capital cities which placed below it. This was again the case for 5G Upload Speed, where users’ speed of 30.8 Mbps in Brasília, was again beaten only by Seoul but the Brazilian capital had a smaller lead over the rest of the capital cities than in the case of 5G Download Speed.

Brasília has also presented a polished experience in entertainment on its new 5G networks. Our users’ real-life measurements of mobile video streaming (5G Video Experience) achieved a score of 77.9 points, placing it in the highest Excellent bracket (75 or above). This means that 5G in Brazil’s capital provided a very consistent experience for all users using popular video services, with fast loading times and almost non-existent stalling. Also, Brasília is in a statistical tie with leaders at the top of the table – that includes Seoul, Ottawa and Berlin.

When it came to playing multiplayer mobile games (5G Games Experience), Brasília recorded a score of 80.5 points, placing it in a Good category (75 or more but less than 85). Hence, Brazil’s capital ranked near the top of the table, but this time Seoul had a confident lead when it came to this experience measurement. Games Experience uses real-world tests that include network parameters such as jitter, lag and packet loss to understand the real-world multiplayer gaming experience using cellular connections.

Particularly impressive was just how much of an improvement the newly enabled 5G network offered to mobile users in Brasília over the previous network generation. While still in the relatively early days of having the new network deployed in Brasília, with congestion unlikely yet to be a problem, our users recorded an incredible 15 fold (1,423%) increase in 5G Download Speed when compared to 4G. Therefore, the download speed users observed increased from 24.3 to 369.5 Mbps. This experience difference was greater than the difference in the other capitals we analyzed, and should act as a compelling reason for mobile users to adopt 5G. The improvement in the Video Experience between 5G and 4G also went up substantially, with the score going up from 51.5 to 77.9 on a 100 point scale — a 51.3% increase. This was roughly in line with the other capital cities included in the comparison.

Our users in Brasília spent only 12.6% of time on average with an active 5G connection — 5G Availability — which was towards the bottom of the comparison table among other included capitals. On 5G Reach, Brasília had a score of 3.3 points out of 10, placing it in a tie for bottom place. This metric quantifies the average proportion of locations where users were connected to a 5G network out of all the locations those users have visited.

In other state capitals in Brazil, operators have had to roll out 3.5 GHz spectrum on a different timeline, and are only able to deploy it once the spectrum is available in each location. Anatel recently granted extension for a number of state capitals, that will see the initial stage of deployment finalized only by October and November for the remaining state capitals.

New 5G deployments have helped jump-start the 5G experience
Previously Opensignal evaluated mobile user experience in Brazil for the non-standalone access (NSA) deployment of the 5G network using repurposed existing spectrum. This network format had to rely on Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) that used the existing 4G spectrum for both 4G and 5G connections, thus limiting the quality of the 5G experience. These 5G services have been available since July 2020 but without new capacity users' experience was only a little better than existing 4G services. Opensignal has found that the 5G experience has improved 2.4 times for download speed compared to that on 4G, with additional uplift in both video streaming and games experience as well. 

Now, in this new Opensignal analysis we see a significant advance in 5G experience with the availability of new high capacity 3.5 GHz spectrum, now recording a 15 fold improvement in download speed over 4G connectivity.